June 5, 2006
1. If you normally drive your car to work, try one of the following alternatives: cycling, walking, car-pooling, taking public transport, tele-working. On average, for each litre of fuel burnt in a car engine, more than 2.5kg of CO2 is released.
2. Try to avoid in particular short car journeys because fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are disproportionately higher when the engine is still cold. Research shows that one in two urban car journeys is for less than three kilometres - a distance that can be easily cycled or walked, which is also much healthier than sitting in a car!
3. Try washing your car by hand or using a pressurized water jet instead of going to a car wash. Car washes use more electricity and water than the old fashioned way.
4. If you replace your car, consider the fuel economy of your new vehicle. Get this: if you drive 15,000km per year (the European average) and you choose a model that consumes 5 litres per 100km instead of 7 litres, you save 300 litres per year. This is worth € 300-400 and 750kg of avoided CO2 emissions year after year. Under European legislation, car manufacturers must display information about CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of new cars in showrooms and advertisements.
5. It's a bad idea to let the vehicle warm up while stationary - the amount of fuel that warming up consumes is greater than what you save by starting your journey with a cold engine.
6. Make sure you have correct tyre pressure: if the pressure is down by 0.5 bars, your car uses 2.5% more fuel to overcome the resistance and thus releases 2.5% more CO2.
7. Consider using low-viscosity motor oil. This lubricates the moving parts of the engine better than ordinary oils, reducing friction. The best oils can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 2.5%.
8. Having a roof rack on your car when it's empty can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and the extra weight - removing it is a better idea. (When roof racks are fully loaded, fuel consumption can go up by as much as 20-30%).
9. Don't speed - you will use less petrol and emit less CO2. Driving faster than 120km per hour increases fuel consumption by 30% compared to driving at 80km per hour. 4th, 5th and 6th gears are the most economical in terms of fuel consumption.
10. Have you heard of eco-driving? It can lower fuel consumption by 5%. Set your car in motion without pressing down the throttle, shift to a higher gear as soon as possible (at 2000-2500 rpm), keep the speed steady, and look ahead to avoid sudden breaking and accelerating. And don't forget to turn off the engine even at short stops!
11. When the air conditioning in your car is on, it increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by around 5%. Use it sparingly! When your car is boiling hot, drive for a few minutes with wide open windows, then close the windows and turn on the A/C. This will save you the fuel needed to bring down the initial temperature.
12. Try to travel by train instead! One person travelling by car alone produces three times more CO2 emissions per kilometre than if this person were travelling by train. Even though trains are run on electricity mostly produced from fossil fuels, they still emit fewer greenhouse gases per passenger transported.
13. Flying is the world's fastest growing source of CO2 emissions. It's worth considering whether trains are an alternative. If you fly, then consider 'offsetting' your carbon emissions. There are organisations that will calculate the emissions you have caused and invest money in renewable energy, energy efficiency or forestry projects that will save the equivalent amount of emissions. For example, a return flight Berlin - Budapest is 1,400km and causes 200-250kg of CO2 emissions per person. It will cost you around € 6-7 to offset these emissions.
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